Tuesday 19 December 2017


Today Ruby would have been 42. Ruby loved birthdays and celebrating them - especially her own! I collected some of her birthday photos (there are lots from her 40th party) and put them up on Flickr. I didn’t plan it this way but it ended up as 42 photos:

I have found sorting out our photos to be a good way to remember Ruby. Writing is harder - this is why the wedding anniversary blog post was so short - it was just too hard to write any words.

The boys and I treated today as a celebration of Ruby. We had breakfast at her favourite pancake place (Pancakes on the Rocks at Northmead) and made her a birthday cake tonight. And of course we drove her car! The boys (and myself) would not have it any other way.

One of Ruby’s bequests was a donation to the Love Your Sister. I thought that today was a good day to make that donation. If you really want to remember Ruby please donate to cancer research. Here are a couple of links:

Thursday 30 November 2017


Today is 15 years since Ruby and I were married in a lovely church in Randwick NSW. 

It was a beautiful Saturday in 2002 - both sunny and rainy (it was a bit like that today in Sydney). We managed to go to a couple of places for photos (Clovelly beach and Mrs Macquaries Chair). The reception was at the ANA Hotel (now the Shangri-La) which had fantastic views of the harbour. The following day we headed off for our honeymoon in Hawaii.

I will let the pictures tell most of the story.
We picked 30 November as it was close to Thanksgiving in the USA - so it would be easier for USA relatives and friends to attend. So while I have been a bit sad today - I am also thankful. Thankful that I met and married this wonderful lady. Thankful that I did get to spend (all too short) time with her. And thankful for our two boys.

Friday 17 November 2017

An Ode to my red Golf GTI

Today is the last time I drove my red Golf GTI
My cars are family members, and I don’t want to say goodbye
Such fun to drive for the past seven years
Parting ways has brought me to tears

The GTI is fun, the GTI is fast!
Driving it was such as blast!
Turbocharged, awesome transmission!
Sticks to the tarmac, beats corners into submission!

For my boys this has always been Dad’s car
They love my red Golf that they can spot from afar
Always asking are we there yet?
Rides in this car they won’t forget

But after seven years it’s time for a change
So my car ownership I must rearrange
However, today is not about sadness, in fact I’m most keen
To add a new family member: an Octavia wagon of colour most green!

It has been two months since my last post. While I do have a couple of posts in various stages of draft, it was more fun (and quicker) to write a post about my GTI. 

I'm really really picky about my cars, so I tend to really like my cars when I do choose one. This GTI was on another level though and it was so good in many respects it made the next car very hard to choose. Its funny though, I wasn't originally going to get a GTI. My last care was a Golf GT Sport (pre-cursor to the diesel GTI - the GTD) so I had decided on changing it for a new model Golf GTD. At the time the GTD was on a 6 month waiting list so the dealer offered me the GTI at the same price. After thinking for approximately 1.243 seconds I went for the GTI. 

I have truly loved owning and driving this car. However,  it was time for a change and I decided not just to get the newest GTI and go for something different. But my review of the new car is for another blog post... 

Thursday 14 September 2017

How are you doing today?

I was asked by several people if I was doing ok in the 2 years when Ruby was sick and while I was unable to talk about what was going on, at the time I really appreciated it. Today (September 14) is R U OK day and it is a good day to ask someone how they are doing, don’t just ask today, ask any day of the year R U OK?

Four seasons in one day
Lying in the depths of your imagination
Worlds above and worlds below
The sun shines on the black clouds hanging over the domain

I have been asked a lot in the last 7 months “How are you doing?”.  The odd thing is I do wonder if people are just asking how my day is or how I am doing coping with my grief/loss/dealing with life/bleakness of existence etc.

Even when you're feeling warm
The temperature could drop away
Like four seasons in one day

How do I answer? That always depends on the day and what I think the question really is. Most of the time I do say some days are bad and other days are good and that I am taking each day as it comes.

Smiling as the shit comes down
You can tell a man from what he has to say
Everything gets turned around
And I will risk my neck again, again

No really, how are you? It is a bit of a cop out/cliche that I say some days are bad and some are good - but it is so much easier to say. Honestly, it would be more true to say that some hours or minutes are really good and other minutes are bad.

You can take me where you will
Up the creek and through the mill
Like all the things you can't explain
Four seasons in one day

Don’t BS me - How Are You Really Doing?

I am doing much better than I expected. Back in February I thought I would be a complete mess several months in. I’m not. While it is true I miss Ruby everyday and I do have very sad moments (a song, a photo or a movie can set me off), that doesn’t stop me enjoying life, friends, family and even work. In fact I appreciate these things even more than I used to - knowing that we only have a brief tenure in this life. And we don’t know for how long that tenure is.

Blood dries up
Like rain, like rain
Fills my cup
Like four seasons in one day

I have been doing to grief counselling every month since February. I steadfastly refused to go to any kind of counselling previously as I honestly didn’t think I needed it (actually looking back I did need it). I have asked my counsellor several times how she thinks I am doing - so far she thinks I am doing well.

It doesn't pay to make predictions
Sleeping on an unmade bed
Finding out wherever there is comfort there is pain
Only one step away
Like four seasons in one day

I really think I don’t need to go to counselling anymore. Therefore I will continue to go, probably until early next year. I think I can work out / recognise when I am having issues and I can always go back if I am having trouble. I also go to set a good example to my boys who I need to make sure get help if they need it. I know there are good/bad/indifferent days. I am prepared for some (such as birthdays, anniversaries, mothers day and others) and at this time I have enough resilience to get through the unexpected days.

Blood dries up
Like rain, like rain
Fills my cup
Like four seasons in one day

I thought I would try a bit of a writing challenge for this blog post and try and write something to the words of a song. I was listening to Weather With You by Crowded House recently and the song really spoke to me in a way I hadn’t considered before. It isn’t my favourite Crowded House song (that is Recurring Dream), but I have always liked this song. I’m not one for analysing songs/books and finding their meaning - but when I was listening to this in my kitchen I realised the song was really about the ups and downs of life. That really resonated with me and I thought it a good way to explain how I am actually doing. 

In reality other songs resonate with me more. U2’s One is a song I truly love - it has taken on many many layers of meaning over the years - even more so recently with the people close to me who have died in recent years - but the lyrics just didn’t work for this blog post (and it too is not my favourite U2 song).

Thursday 7 September 2017

September Apple Event 2017 - my thoughts

Apple normally works to patterns. Each year there is a new iPhone and releases of their software platforms (iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS). This usually happens in the second week of September with the new iPhones available towards the end of the month. However, what we don’t have is a regular pattern for the AppleTV and the Apple Watch - so far they have been more sporadic. Though Apple does release new watch bands every 6 months or so.

What will be special is this is the first event at the new Steve Jobs theatre at the new campus.

I think the rumours are going to be spot on (MacRumors have a good summary). On 12th September (early morning or Wednesday 13th morning for those of us in the Aussieland) we will see new iPhones (7S, 7S Plus and the Pro with edge/edge OLED screen), iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, tvOS 11 and watchOS 4. We should also see a new Apple Watch (Series 3 with 4G LTE) and a new 4K AppleTV (with likely support for the High Dynamic Range - HDR spec) and new watch bands.

While the new iPhone design will be interesting (I wonder how they market the “notch at the top” and the lack of a home button) I think the more interesting items will not be hardware. First up there is no point releasing a 4K Apple TV without content so there should be iTunes 4K & HDR content (what will the price will be for these?). 

Second (and even more interesting in my view) is ARKit - this is the augmented reality system in iOS 11. This will make Apple the largest augmented reality platform in the world. So far we have already seen some interesting things done with this (virtual menus, redoing the Ah-Ha video - see below). But this is only scratching the surface. This is just a few of my quick thoughts  about tourist info so you can get information on landmarks nearby, augmented museum / gallery tours. And don’t limit this to being on a phone. While Google Glass was a failure, what a companion glasses to the phone? Possibilities…

Even though this is the 10th anniversary of the release of the iPhone I don't think that Apple will do anything special. The modern Apple is not a nostalgic company (with a few exceptions). They probably won’t even mention it. The rumours earlier this year about the “so called” iPhone X they were preparing of the 10th anniversary I don't think are true. We are getting the new design as it is ready. Pure and simple.

Lastly, the new feature I am going to first play with first is from watchOS 4 - Buzz, Woody and the gang as my watch face - awesome 😀

Sunday 20 August 2017

Mixed feelings - Seattle trip Feb 2017

6 months ago (20th Feb 2017) Ruby’s funeral was held at Immaculate Conception church in Seattle (a couple of blocks from her parent’s house). Ruby expressed very clear wishes on a number of things to happen after she died. She wanted her funeral to be in Seattle, for her to be cremated, the ashes to be scattered in Puget Sound near Alki beach and for a group of friends and family to go to Seattle for the funeral and to see where she grew up.

Ten of us travelled to Seattle from Australia - some on their first trip to the USA. We were in Seattle for just 6 days. I was particularly stressed on the way over as I felt somewhat responsible for everyone and was worried about the funeral (doing a eulogy and how the day would run). While we did get a good deal on the flights (considering the short notice), we did miss the connecting flight from LAX to Seattle as LAX was very busy (didn’t realise it was Presidents Day weekend). Fortunately we all managed to get on the next flight to Seattle.

Everything worked on the day of the funeral. Ruby’s song she wanted played worked even though it was just my iPhone speaker into a microphone. The eulogy went well and I got to meet some of Ruby’s school friends. I did manage to spill part of lunch on myself when helping clean up and was almost left behind when heading off to scatter the ashes (there were three cars of us to organise).

Ruby had indicated where exactly she wanted the ashes scattered from, but when Ruby’s brother and I investigated the spot, it was going to be hard to actually scatter the ashes in the water. Fortunately we found a better spot just around the corner. The scattering went very well (glad I read up on it before trying) and also scattering some of flowers from the funeral made it more special. The picture of my boys looking out to sea watching the ashes float away is both gut-wrenching and beautiful at the same time. 

 Seattle Feb 2017

The next couple of days we saw the sights of Seattle. Had coffee. Went to the Space Needle, Pike Place and the Museum of Flight (where the boys had a fantastic couple of hours). Found some great places to eat. I now know some new places to get coffee that are in short walking distance to Ruby’s parent’s house: Peloton and Cherry St Coffee (at 12th and James). And a great chicken wings and waffles place...
I tweeted this just when we were just about to leave Seattle. It describes my mood at the end of the trip perfectly. Having (finally!) organised all the photos (thanks to everyone who sent me pictures in the last couple of months) I was able to relive this trip - and hence the blog post. So while I still have mixed feelings about the trip I definitely have some good memories and I don't feel like I left Ruby there - she came back with us too.

Thursday 10 August 2017

Ruby’s Star and RubyNanomed

In March a group of Ruby’s Facebook friends got together and gave me and the boys a gift to name a star after Ruby. At first I really wasn’t ready to sort this out, but last week I decided to fill in the forms (by email - which made it easier). I chose to have a star selected in the Phoenix constellation and backdated to the day she died.

Today StarRegistry.com.au sent me a package with location of her star and a certificate. For more details see the International Star Registry page for Ruby.

This is awesome. And perfect too - as Ruby's last name Estrella means star in Spanish. The certificate is great too, very much in Ruby's style.

I also found out that another Ruby's Facebook friends who works in cancer research has named a cancer detector tool/method after her: RubyNanomed. This is also awesome! More details here (translated from Portuguese).

I think both these are super awesome and a great way to remember Ruby.

Thursday 3 August 2017

Dreaming it all up again

6 months ago my wife Ruby died due to stage 4 cancer - I originally posted this on Facebook 36 hours after she died. The last line I wrote was that I “need to go away and dream it all up again”. That was partly a reference to something Bono said on 30th Dec 1989 (U2 being at the end of an era - in the end reinventing themselves in the 90s) and partly something I felt that I really needed to do after losing someone I had shared my hopes and dreams with for nearly half my life.

The last 6 months have been very busy, dealing with everything and the loss of Ruby, but about a month ago I started thinking about those words on one of my work trips to Melbourne. I realised didn’t need to find a new dream or reinvent myself like U2 did. Instead “dreaming it all up again” was about how I move forward and how I function each day in what is now a new era in my life. 

And here it is: I need to be happy being me.

Am I happy being me? Being brutally honest - only sort of. Part of this is I think I need to be a better me - Ben version 4 if you will. Basically I want to be happy with my choices, being the best father and role model for my boys, being more decisive and not regretting or wasting any moment of my life.

I'm not saying I am starting this today as it is the 6 month anniversary of Ruby's death. Part of my thinking in the last month is that I have actually already started this. The work has begun, but is not yet finished…

I did want to do/start something at the 6 month point - which is restarting this blog (after nearly 5 years of silence) and posting regularly. Why restart the blog? Partly as I want to share what is going on with me and the boys (that doesn’t fit in 140 characters), partly to say the things I can’t say in person (yet) and mainly just because I bloody-well want to.

Sunday 5 February 2017

Sad news about Ruby

This was originally posted on Facebook on Sunday 5th February 2017 - Ruby died on the previous Friday night. Re-reading it 6 months later I think I what I wrote was good (all things considered) and after decided to restart my blog didn't want this buried/lost in a Facebook feed so I copied this verbatim to this post (I was able to put the date as the date I posted on Facebook).

My beautiful wife Ruby Estrella passed away on Friday night. She was surrounded by family and friends and we had time to have a chat and say our goodbyes. 
Ruby was diagnosed with cancer over 18 months ago. It was a rare form of cancer called unknown primary (meaning it had already spread to other organs, but the main cancer cannot be found). She did well with a number of chemo treatments and while we were always hopeful each one would work, we knew it was only a matter of time before the cancer would spread faster than the chemo could stop it. 

The cancer in her liver started growing faster in January and last week she was admitted to hospital. Fortunately her parents, brother Elvin Estrella and many others were able to get here in time and say goodbye. She died peacefully and was at peace with what was happening (she told many people not to be sad and that she had had a good life). 
So please don't be too sad for too long. Ruby would want you to celebrate her life and the good things in it. 
I knew Ruby for over half my lifetime and while I will always want more time I was super lucky this wonderful lady was with me for as long as she was. She also gave me two wonderful boys, a taste for travel and introduced me to her favourite bands (Depeche Mode and New Order). 
I will be ok. I am getting great support from family and friends. However, right now I am devastated by this. I need to go away and dream it all up again.